Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Long Pond closure devastating Clarke’s Town

Published:Thursday | March 16, 2017 | 3:00 AMLeon Jackson

WESTERN BUREAU:

Clark's Town and surrounding communities in Trelawny are said to be reeling under the impact of the lack of activity at the Long Pond Sugar Factory, which has been the economic lifeline in that section of the parish for decades.

"There is a social explosion ready to go off any minute now in Clark's Town and surrounding areas," said Dunstan Harper, councillor for the area. "The absence of activities at Long Pond is having a significantly negative effect on the economy in the area."

According to the first-time councillor, scores of persons are now without a source of livelihood because the factory is not participating in the 2016-17 sugar crop year, which is a major blow to the lives of residents.

"Long Pond was an employer to over 300 workers. Its closure has put these people on the streets and only a few, who have found employment elsewhere, can smile," said Harper. "The majority of displaced workers are just hanging around with nothing to do and with families to take care of. It is not a good sight."

 

SITUATION VERY BAD

 

"The situation is very bad, especially for farmers with small acreages. Cane cutters, those who can afford to, are gone to Clarendon and Westmoreland, making it difficult for them to have their canes reaped," said Jeremy Peart, who owns over 300 acres of cane land in the community.

"In addition, their roads were not designed to accommodate the trailers used by Appleton Estate, which is now accepting canes from Long Pond on a government subsidy."

While acknowledging that farmers who are sending their canes to Appleton are getting very good financial returns, he expressed grave concern for those farmers who are not in that loop.

"The best thing for Long Pond would be for Appleton to do whatever needs to be done and have Everglades (Farms Limited) give up the lease and they (Appleton) operate the factory," Peart added.

"Farmers would benefit (as) employment would come back to the area. The factory has been a main economic spin-off for the area over the years. Unless this happens, praedial larceny will become king."